What's next for photography? What's in its future? In the…
With the meltdown of the housing and equity markets, and the general uncertainty with the economy, it seems that we’re surrounded by a lot of doom and gloom. A glimmer of hope seems to be in order. So despite the fact that it’s a Friday night, I’m throwing caution into the wind and posting about some exciting new changes around here.
Photographers, get ready to FREAK OUT.
PA 2.0 represents a full re-skin of the site, a trophy-case of new features that we developed in direct response to our users’ requests, the cheapest/fastest/coolest way to get a personal photography website loaded with e-commerce capabilities (can you say … website-in-30-seconds-or-less), and some cool new *viral* tools for getting your images for sale all over the place on the web. The forums are back, and our Virtual Agencies are now free!
But before getting into the details of some of my favorite features of PA 2.0, I want to mention a couple of housekeeping items first:
FORUM Q&A – THE ECONOMY, DRR, PSC – BRING IT ON
MONDAY 10/20, 12 NOON EST
First, I know we are all concerned with the current economic climate as a whole, and specifically with the health of the photography category. To help answer any questions about what is going on in the industry and what our position is amidst all of this, my management team and I will be standing by on the Forums for a two hour period this Monday. We welcome all questions and promise to be brutally honest in return. Now is your chance.
Monday Oct 20th, 12 Noon EST. Note that only Personal Archive Basic, Standard & Pro subscribers can contribute forum questions!
I also would like to say publicly and upfront, that we have touched base with the both the management and the investors of Digital Railroad and want to extend to them our fullest support and respect during this very difficult time. We always regarded them as a very capable team with a great community – and considered them to be a partner in moving the industry forward and creating opportunities for independent photographers. We are deeply sorry to see the news of their struggle and wish them the best of luck in the coming weeks. We’re also working on a solution to help facilitate migrations for DRR customers – expect more on this in the coming week.
RECESSION BUSTER DISCOUNTS
Secondly, many of the most exciting new features of Personal Archive 2.0, will only be available for Standard and Pro subscribers. To help any Starter or Basic account holders upgrade to this new functionality, we are offering steep discounts on the Standard level account.
Standard Account Savings:
1 month free for new monthly subscriptions ($29.99 per month)
20% off new annual subscriptions ($289 per year)
A tough economy has everyone fine tuning their businesses. We can help – by providing the tools you need to market your images online. This offer is good through October 31 – so for a limited time, the extra savings makes it more affordable to achieve greater success online.
Ok, now the goodness….Introducing the PhotoShelter Personal Archive 2.0.
(BTW, on Monday you will each receive a system update email that will walk you through the new Personal Archive features in detail – this is just a preview – and you can log into your accounts now to see it all live.)
Website Template Library (aka Create your website in under 30 seconds)
Photographers – wait you didn’t freak out yet? Ok get ready to really FREAK OUT. A new menu of pre-set templates let you instantly “skin” your Personal Archive account. The result is a fully functional website with a clean, professional aesthetic. Powered by your Personal Archive, you can feature galleries, search, and e-commerce, plus lightboxes, slideshows, and client login/password protection. These templates are part of the Seamless Customization feature, available with Standard & Pro Accounts. Don’t like our templates? You can always create your own look and feel to integrate PhotoShelter with your website.
Our QA Maniac Mike Treola created this example in SIX CLICKS:
I encourage you all to try your own templates and post links to my blog so we can all see the results. We also have several more templates and styles coming out next week – and the fun part is, you can switch in an instant. Cool!
So in a matter of seconds, you can have a fully e-commerce enabled website with archive searchability. You can have images that fill up your entire screen or smaller ones if you’re concerned about your security. You can watermark the images. You can have a client login area to deliver high resolution files. You can sell prints or stock images. This is the ultimate “business-in-the-box” solution to create an online presence for any serious photographer.
We also decided to build a Flash-based slideshow feature that you can turn on if you choose. This gives you a level of functionality that’s found in a lot of other (more expensive) standalone products, but every image is tied into the e-commerce capabilities, so you have a direct way to monetize any visitors to your site.
In case you’re not already aware, PhotoShelter supports automated prints & product sales, self-fulfilled sales, electronic personal use downloads, royalty-free stock and rights-manage stock powered by fotoQuote. There’s simply no other product on the market that gives you this level of functionality.
Embed Images and Galleries Anywhere on the Web that can be Clicked & Licensed
Once we built the slideshow for Customization, we thought it would be pretty cool if you could embed it anywhere. Part of the huge growth and success of YouTube was the ability to stick a video anywhere you wanted — in a blog, a forum, etc. While the big, lumbering media companies cried foul, the progressive users understood that this was a free marketing vehicle. We think the same.
Let’s say I visit the website of Andy Biggs, and I see a cool gallery. If he enables the Flash slideshow from his site, I can click the lower left corner and grab the “embed” code, and stick it in my blog. Now I have his images on my blog, and when a user clicks an image they like, they go straight to his e-commerce site where they can buy a print. This ain’t just talk. You’re looking at it below:
We did the same for single images. Photographers are rightfully concerned about image theft, but if every image you released on the Internet clicked back to your PhotoShelter pages, then you’ve just enabled free advertising to your ready-to-license photography. No more orphan works when every image has a link embedded in it.
The implications are huge, and we think every photographer should be using this.
Enabling this is purely optional, and the images can always carry your watermark for protection. And “I’d love to see how early adopters put this to use. Please share your links!
Virtual Agencies are now free
Very early on in the history of Personal Archive, we created the concept of the Virtual Agency — basically a way for like-minded photographers to combine their archives under a single entity with an aggregated search.
The Virtual Agencies used to cost $50 to create and then $5 per user per month. But we think that individual photographers and small groups have the best chance of creating and marketing into specific niches. So we decided “free” was the best way to support your success.
Any paid account tier (which start at $9.99/month) can create up to three Virtual Agencies for free. And once you’re invited to a VA, there’s no cost to join — even if you have a free account.
Talking is good. One of the great opportunities that the Internet has supported is the ability to create virutal communities where people can share their collective knowledge. We saw some great interactions on the PhotoShelter Collection, so we migrated the forums over to the Personal Archive, and also categorized the conversations to give you an easier way to get to threads that are relevant to you.
And while we’re at it, every Virtual Agency also has its own, private forum too.
And last, but as we all know, certainly not least – you’ll also notice we did a little fall cleanup. Members told us to simplify the interface and we did just that. We hope you’ll find your new Personal Archive more visually appealing and user friendly. Here’s a handy map to understand where the old stuff went, in case you get lost.
Ok – that’s it for now everyone. PA 2.0 represents a huge amount of work and passion from our engineering team and our entire staff – I hope you love it as much as we do. Let us know what you think.
Thank you again for all of your support – and we’ll see you on the Personal Archive Forums at 12 Noon EST this Monday October 20th.
Have a great weekend everyone!
All the Best,